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A Guide to Guardianship for Adults With Disabilities

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guardianship for adults with disabilitiesA child with disabilities deserves just as many privileges as any other child. However, not every individual can become independent as they age into adulthood. They may have mental or physical disabilities that need ongoing support.

Guardianship for adults with disabilities is an option you should consider when your child turns 18. Not only does it give you more responsibility for them, but it also helps to protect them in the long run.

Here’s everything you need to know about legal guardianship and how to apply for guardianship.

What Does Legal Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities Include?

A legal guardian is anyone who has been granted full legal and physical custody of another person. For a parent, it means taking full responsibility for your child regardless of their age.

Without it, they would be treated as an independent adult once they’re 18 years old. If your child can’t make fully informed decisions on their own, they may make some questionable legal and financial decisions.

As a legal guardian, you can make all decisions regarding your child’s assets and healthcare. Legal guardianship is assigned by a court and can only be revoked if a guardian fails to meet their duty or someone petitions to remove them.

It’s important not to confuse legal guardianship with power of attorney. The latter is a legal document that grants a specific person the ability to act on another person’s behalf.

For example, you have the option to get power of attorney over a family member’s financial affairs. You may pursue this after they’ve suffered a debilitating injury, such as a stroke. You can also direct someone else to make medical decisions for you or act for you in specific situations like real estate.

Meanwhile, legal guardianship often entails a more comprehensive level of authority.

When to Apply for Guardianship for your Special Needs Child

Deciding to apply for special needs guardianship is never an easy thing, but it’s best to make the decision up to 6 months before your child turns 18.

You may need to apply for guardianship for adults with intellectual disabilities if your son or daughter has a tendency to wander off. There’s nothing illegal or concerning about an adult going for a walk on their own. If you have guardianship, the police have a responsibility to go looking for them to make sure they’re safe.

Legal guardianship can also speed up legal and medical proceedings. You make decisions regarding their health and finances, avoiding credit checks and the like. That also means your dependent won’t have to worry about their credit score when purchasing a vehicle or a house.

You should not apply for legal guardianship if you want your child to maintain some level of dependence and they have proven themselves capable. Instead, power of attorney may be enough to protect your child’s assets while letting them have more control of their lives.

How to Qualify

More often than not, if a special needs individual needs more support, a family member takes on legal guardianship. According to National Core Indicators, over 80% of legal guardians are family members.

However, you don’t need to be a family member to qualify. In some cases, a public guardian or public administrator takes on the responsibility.

An interested person petitions the court for legal guardianship. That petition should include why they’re the best choice to be the guardian and a doctor’s certification of a person’s level of functioning.

The judge will decide if there are any better alternatives and if the proposed guardian is fit for the role.

Different Models

Taking on legal guardianship of your aging child means controlling various parts of their life. It’s important to know the different models available that offer different levels of responsibility.

Legal proceedings to determine guardianship follow an LRE model. The courts should try to place individuals in the Least Restrictive environment possible. That way, they aren’t stripping them of their rights without good reason.

Supported Decision-Making allows people with disabilities to keep the right to make certain decisions. Instead of a legal guardian who makes their decisions, the person with disabilities has a group of supporters. These supporters can be friends, family, and even a lawyer.

Alternatively, the court may decide that a power of attorney or a financial representative is sufficient. In those cases, an individual can still function independently outside of any financial matters.

Starting the Legal Steps

To apply for guardianship over your child, you must first file a petition with a local court. Hire an attorney to help draft your petition, and the court will appoint another one to represent your child. Your State and County Office of Development Disabilities should be able to send you packets to help with the legal process.

Get a report from your family physician regarding your child’s capabilities. This can include any kind of developmental therapist they regularly visit.

In addition, it helps to have a vision statement written out. Your child will let you know what they want out of life, and it’ll be your responsibility to help them reach their goals.

It’s also important to prepare for the potentiality of your death. Guardianship cannot be passed on through a will. You can recommend a future legal guardian for consideration, though.

Guardianship Made Simple

Legal guardianship gets a bad wrap for a number of reasons, giving off the illusion that it is taking away a person’s right and individuality.

However, guardianship for adults with disabilities may be necessary for protecting your child and ensuring their safety. There are also different levels of guardianship that are ultimately decided by the court.

Interested in learning more about your options? Contact Rhodes Law Firm, PC, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Around the Web: Keep an eye on these estate plan legislation proposals

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If passed into law, your estate plan strategies could very well be affected by any of the three legislative proposals recently introduced. These proposals, introduced by the House Democrats, would significantly affect some of the more commonly used wealth transfer strategies. This article focuses on the three proposals to watch and how they can alter your strategies if passed into law. 


  • Reduction in the federal estate tax exemption – Essentially the current exemption would be cut in half. You may want to consider completing large gifts before year-end if this proposal becomes law.
  • Alterations to grantor trust rules – Currently, irrevocable trusts may be created as grantor trusts for income tax purposes, which can be very advantageous in certain situations such as gifting. If the new proposal becomes law, trusts that are treated as grantor trusts for income tax purposes would be included in the grantor’s estate for estate tax purposes, also requiring the grantor to recognize gain on assets sold to this type of trust. If you are planning to create intentionally defective grantor trusts, you may want to complete these transactions as soon as possible.
  • Limits on available discounts for nonbusiness assets – The proposed legislation would essentially eliminate discounts on passive assets. These assets are ones not used in actively conducting business. This would reduce the number of discounts available to transfers of closely held family entities, such as limited liabilities and partnerships which hold passive assets. If you are planning gifts of closely held businesses which hold passive assets, go ahead and plan to complete this soon. 


If you need assistance with your estate plan per these new proposed laws, Rhodes Law Firm is happy to assist. Contact us today!

A Complete Guide to Long-Term Care Planning and Living Trusts

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living trusts

The U.S. population is aging at a rapid rate. Within the next decade, around 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over 65. This is one of the first times that older Americans made up such a large portion of the population.

As we get older, it’s more important than ever to start long-term care planning. Even though retirees need long-term care and estate planning in retirement, very few have this plan. Do you have a plan in place for your loved ones, or do your parents have one in place?

Why is this so important? A lack of planning can really impact your finances and put family caregivers in an uncomfortable situation.

Keep reading to learn more about long-term care as we take a look at living trusts.

The Complexities of Long Term Care

There is more to a long-term care plan than budgeting. You need to include information like the type of care you want, who should provide that care, permission for family members, and how to finance these costs.

Your basic estate planning starts with getting a will that deals with your property and also states the important decisions on the care of minor children (if needed). An estate plan also includes directives on advanced health care, so you can let your doctor and loved ones know what medical steps you are okay with and what you don’t want to happen in a life-threatening medical scenario.

If you have these things in place, you are off to a good start. But, let’s go a step further with the living trust.

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust (also called a revocable living trust) is a legal document that permits the property owner to transfer their ownership of assets to a trust, which is a legal entity that contains real estate and other holdings. This document places all your assets like real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and vehicles into your trust during your lifetime. You can then say where you want these items to go upon your death. It is called revocable because you can change or cancel anytime during your lifetime.

For example, a parent can take a house that they own and transfer the ownership into the trust. You can name yourself the trustee (and your spouse a co-trustee), and then you remain in complete control of these assets. Then the ownership of the home can transfer to the child when the parent dies or has a disability.

The living trust also names the trustee, which is the person that will administer the assets outlined in the trust. You can even take it a step further and name the beneficiary. This is the person that should receive the benefits when the grantor dies.


For example, the spouse is named as the grantor, and the child is named as the beneficiary. If you have everything spelled out, your beneficiaries will receive your assets without any court involvement.

Advantages of a Living Trust

So, why should you get a living trust? There are several reasons you should consider a living trust to benefit your loved ones.

Avoid Probate

One of the biggest reasons to have a living trust is to avoid probate, which is a court-supervised process that reviews the deceased individual’s estate and affairs. Probate does tie up loose ends, but the process can be time-consuming and costly for all involved parties.

This is why people turn to an estate planning attorney to draft a living trust to spare their heirs any court hassles.

Provides Flexibility

A person’s personal and financial situations can change. This is why it’s pretty common for grantors to change the trust and change assets. You can even change the beneficiaries listed anytime during your lifetime.

Maintain Your Privacy


Because court records are public, probate can uncover unpaid balances, debts, and other details people may want to keep private. Anyone can look up these records and get this information. Because a living trust helps avoid probate, this information can remain private.

Addresses Minors Or Dependents

Grantors can also tailor the terms of the trust to make sure that loved ones get what they need. For example, if adult children have issues managing money or have an illness, the grantor can place conditions on the sale or use of assets within the trust. The grantor can also address dependent or minor children that have a disability by appointing a guardian to look after them.

Other Things to Consider

There are other legal decisions that you need to consider, and there are limitations on what a living trust can do. Before you determine your best course of action, you should consult an attorney specializing in estate planning. Here are things you need to address in your long-term planning.

Protecting Your Assets from Nursing Homes

A revocable trust does not protect your assets from offering nursing home costs. You’ll need to consider these potential costs as you age and need more care. You should work on your financial calculations to make sure you are set with your estate strategy if you need additional funding to cover this care, so most people look to long-term care insurance.

Avoiding Estate Taxes

You can really save on estate taxes. As long as you have these assets, they are considered part of your estate, which means the IRS collects the taxes.


Saving on Legal Costs

You will need to hire an estate attorney to help you gather and set up the living trust. This means there is an expense upfront, but it is a worthwhile investment from a long-term perspective.

Making Hard Decisions

You will still need to decide and discuss which beneficiaries will receive which assets and property. This topic can be extremely uncomfortable. You may even have to spend time together with your family to put together the paperwork and document your assets in detail.

Help for Estate Planning

A living trust may not be for everyone, but it can certainly help you if you have a lot of assets. It can be beneficial if you own property in multiple states or if you have extended family that can make more things complicated.

It’s not just about how much property or money you have either. This trust can give you the assurance that you can distribute your assets to your wishes. You also know that the process will be painless and smooth for your family.

Looking for more advice? Contact Rhodes Law Firm today. We are here to help make estate planning as easy as possible, so you don’t have to worry about putting strain on your family.


Around the Web: Being an Executor can be an Arduous Task

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When a loved one passes away, you may be left wondering where to even begin with settling their estate. The thought alone can be overwhelming.  This Kiplinger article offers a great starting point for executors of estates. 

The first stage of the process includes finding the last will and testament, canceling the deceased’s credit cards, and procuring death certificates. Getting a hold of the original is important as it is needed to begin the probate process. You may also want to safeguard any valuables or property in these first few days following a death. In the next stages, you should consider hiring legal representation and getting all necessary signatures for legal documents. 

The final stages include administering the estate, paying beneficiaries, and – finally – closing the estate. Probate is a lengthy process and can take months or even years to complete. It is a tough process, but our team at Rhodes Law Firm can help! Give us a call today if you need assistance. 

Around the Web: Is your Estate Plan up to date?

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When was the last time you went through your estate plan and made any necessary changes? Likely, it has been a while, laws have changed, and some elements need revisiting and adjusting. This Kiplinger article provides a checklist to guide you through the process of reevaluating your estate plan. 

There are just a few key things to keep in mind when you update your plan:

  • Where you live – have you moved to a new state? Laws can differ from state to state, so take this into consideration when looking over your plan.
  • Significant changes – whether you’re having a new baby or getting a divorce, reassess your plan accordingly.  
  • Changes in laws – your estate plan could be affected by changes to state or federal laws that may include exemption limitations, probate, gift tax, etc. Review your plan if any laws have changed that could affect your estate.
  • Power of attorney – who have you chosen to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated? Make sure this information is up to date and still accurate. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Give the team at Rhodes Law Firm a call to review your plan today.

Around the Web: Preparing for Estate Tax Changes

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Estate planning can be overwhelming for anyone, but for high net-worth folks it is important to regularly update your estate plans to ensure your strategy is still appropriate. 

Since we are in a new presidential administration, it’s wise to review your existing plan soon due to proposed new law changes. This article by the South Florida Business Journal offers insight on the proposed changes to the federal gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions and how it may affect estate planning.

Essentially, if the estate tax is reduced in the near future, a much greater number of people would now be subject to estate tax. Therefore, according to the article, individuals and families will need to consider whether gifting in the remainder of 2021 makes sense in their situation.

Whether you need information on the benefits of spousal planning or you are weighing your options regarding holding assets until death, our team at Rhodes Law Firm is here to help guide you through the many legislation changes to come. 

Contact Rhodes Law Firm today to see what is best for you. 

Around the Web: Consider the Importance of Prenuptial Estate Planning

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Many folks may not consider the importance of prenuptial estate planning, but it can be detrimental to your future partner if something happens to you before you’re married. This Watertown Public Opinion article offers some insight on why it is important to consider drafting up a will before and after you are married.

In the article, the author shares the story of a successful personal friend getting engaged and not making the time to draft up a will before getting married, and was later diagnosed with cancer. He passed away before they were married and his fiancé could not inherit his assets as he wished.

If you are engaged to someone and planning to spend the rest of your life with this person, you may want to ensure they are taken care of if something should happen to you. Legally, they would have no right to your assets before you are married. You may think that it can wait until you are married, but unexpected illnesses and accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. 

Contact Rhodes Law Firm today for assistance with your prenuptial estate planning needs.

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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personal injury lawsuitThere are over 37.9 million visits to the emergency room for injuries.

Personal injury can be debilitating and frustrating. You may have mounting medical bills and be unable to work. If someone’s negligence caused your injuries, you will very likely have a personal injury lawsuit case.

If you have decided to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer and want to know more about personal injury claims, take a look at this vital information.

What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A personal injury case will arise when you suffer injury or harm from an accident. A personal injury case usually occurs because you have suffered this injury at the hands of someone else.

The insurance company of the one responsible for your injury is often asked to pay you money. This financial compensation is usually for your medical bills, loss of wages, or any pain you may have suffered.

In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit happens because you need help to pay for your ongoing medical bills. Personal injury lawsuits against doctors are possible.

If you feel that your doctor has in some way harmed you due to medical malpractice you can sue them for compensation.

When medical malpractice comes into play, you will likely need to deal with the attorneys at the hospital and an insurance company. If your doctor has a private practice you will have to deal with their personal attorney.

Often personal injury cases can settle outside of court. It is when the dispute goes unsettled, because of the failure of the insurance company to give you a reasonable settlement your lawyer will take the case to court.

How are Personal Injury Cases Filed?

As mentioned before most of these cases are normally settled outside of court. When they are not settled through negotiation they are brought before the civil court.

The purpose of the civil court case is to make someone legally at fault for your injury. When someone becomes legally at fault for your injury they will have no choice but to compensate you.

When your attorney makes a formal complaint in civil court against someone, a business, or a government agency for negligence this action is known as filing a lawsuit.

Filing the lawsuit is the first step. There are also several other steps that your personal injury attorney will have to go through to win your case.

Going to Trial

At the trial, all the evidence that was collected is presented before the court. This means that all your medical reports, witness statements, police report, and any other important details that have been collected about the case will be presented.

Once all the evidence has been examined by the judge they will decide your case. The judge may either decide that you have a valid case and give you a lawsuit settlement or they may side with the other party.

Once a verdict is in your favor you should get compensation. However, if the verdict is rendered against you, you will have the ability to appeal it.

If the verdict went against the defendant they will also have the chance to appeal the case in court.

Statutes of Limitations?

There is often a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuit cases. This means that you have a limited time in which you can file a lawsuit against the person who injured you.

The statute of limitations also applies to cases of medical malpractice. If your doctor has harmed you in some way, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against them and get compensation.

The statute of limitations begins when you were injured or when you first discover your injuries. The sooner you can find a lawyer to start working on your case the better it will be for you.

If you don’t try to get compensation within a certain amount of time you may find that you cannot get any compensation for damages at all. When you file a lawsuit you will no longer be subject to the statute of limitations.

This means that you will have an unlimited amount of time to present your case before the court and get the compensation you deserve.

Statutes of limitations by the lawmakers in each state. The statute of limitations on your injuries varies. It depends on the state that you live in and also on the type of personal injury that you have suffered.

In some states, the statute of limitations will be as much as two years. For some cases, it may be as much as five years but for others, it may be as little as one year. It is always a good idea to find all the statutes of limitations in your particular state so that you do not miss your opportunity to get the compensation that you deserve.

Get Compensated

Suffering a personal injury can be very devastating. This is especially true if it prevents you from working to earn a living or if it leaves you in severe pain.

Often getting compensation for your injuries is the only way you may be able to afford all the bills that are piling up.

When the negligent person has an insurance company that does not wish to cooperate or has an insurance company that tries to give you less than you deserve, your personal injury lawyer will take the case to court.

If you would like help with a personal injury lawsuit, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Around the Web: Are You Ready for Retirement?

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In this article by Kiplinger, you will see that if you are retiring or getting ready to retire in the near future, it is critical to identify goals for your assets and get a plan together. It’s important to do this in a way that is tax efficient to help the success of your estate plan. This article lists some recommendations for optimizing your estate plan for retirement in a tax-efficient manner. 

First, plan for both core assets and excess capital. When reviewing your investments and income, your stable sources of income may be supplemented by taxable investment distributions. Your core capital should include enough to cover annual expenses as well as enough reserves to address unanticipated medical care or episodic expenses. 

Once your core capital is identified, it may be a good idea to separate your excess capital for wealth transfer, as it may not be managed effectively for tax or investments in the future. It may be wise to plan separately for IRA and tax-deferred assets to ensure tax efficiency. 

If you would like to learn more about planning for your retirement and making the most of your assets, contact Rhodes Law Firm today.

Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

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estate planning attorneyIn the US, the mortality rate is nearly 3 million per year. And many of these individuals pass away without an estate plan. The good news is that an estate planning attorney can help you strategize for the future.

Future planning is a complicated and lengthy legal process. But without it, your loved ones may not be able to live normally after your death.

And don’t think you can DIY your estate plan. Online forms and software systems don’t have the same legal bearing as an estate plan drafted by an experienced attorney.

Need more to convince you that you need a lawyer to help with planning your estate? Then keep reading.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of making arrangements in case of someone’s death. Arrangements include the divvying of assets to heirs and determining how the government enforces estate taxes. Estate plans may also encompass:

  • Setting up trusts
  • Establishing any donations to charity
  • Naming beneficiaries
  • Organizing funeral arrangements
  • Guardianship of children who are minors

Usually, the estate owner specified the above arrangements in his or her will. In the will, the estate owner may also name an executor who will ensure the will’s terms are properly enforced.

The estate executive will be the person who submits the will to a court upon your death. Without a will or an executor, a court will decide how to divvy up your assets among all possible heirs.

The Benefits of Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is a legal process. And writing a will requires knowledge of Federal and state laws. These laws lay out what can and cannot go into a will.

Failing to get your estate plan done the right way can mean bad news for your loved ones. That’s one reason why hiring an estate planning lawyer is so critical.

Here are a few more benefits of using an attorney to create your estate plan.

Estate Planning Lawyers Offer Convenience

Estate planning is complicated and time-consuming. It requires specific language that non-lawyers can easily misinterpret. And as we’ve mentioned, getting your will wrong could impact your heirs’ inheritance.

You could set up a trust and write a will yourself. But as you’ll see next, DIY estate plans have some serious drawbacks. It’s always easier (and cheaper) to just hire an attorney the first time.

DIY Wills Aren’t Necessarily Legally Enforceable

You can find DIY will forms online. They may be legal to use, but they aren’t necessarily legally enforceable. In other words, a court of law may not uphold the requests you make in your DIY will after your death.

Estate plans should be indisputable. If yours isn’t, your family may have to pay out of pocket to fight in court. An estate planning lawyer has the expertise to make your will hold firm, so your heirs don’t suffer the consequences.

If You Have a Will Already, an Estate Planning Attorney Can Update It

Laws are always changing. So, if you have an estate plan already, you may need to update it. You should also update your estate plan after any major life events.

You should always have your will updated after marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the purchase of assets. An estate lawyer can help you update your will in case of these events and many more.

Who Needs an Attorney for Future Planning?


You Don’t Have Any Heirs

Estate owners without any heirs (children, legal spouses, etc.) may have to forfeit their assets to the state of Georgia. With an estate plan attorney, you can help ensure your assets stay out of the state’s hands.

You Have a Family

Do you know how your spouse and children will be provided for when you die? If not, an estate plan can set out terms for how and what each member of the family will inherit.

You Possess Foreign or Out-of-State Assets

Passing on out-of-state or out-of-country assets can be sticky. Each state has its own laws surrounding inheritance and wealth taxes.

An attorney can ensure your will complies with the law in the states in which you own property.

You Own a Business

Who will operate your small business when you pass? And if you’re an executive of your company, who will your successor(s) be? An estate planning attorney can help you decide what will happen to your business after you pass.

Your Estate Is Taxable

Estate taxes incur from property passed down after a person’s death. A lawyer can help your loved ones manage and understand how to file estate taxes after your death.

In 2021, the federal estate tax exclusion is $11.7 million, meaning your loved ones must pay an estate tax if your estate meets or exceeds this value. There is no state estate tax in Georgia.

Looking for the Best Estate Planning Lawyer?

An estate plan is a legal document outlining what will happen to your assets upon your death. Getting an estate plan attorney to take care of your future planning will ensure your will is enforced the way you wanted it to be.

Searching for an estate planning attorney near me? Contact us to find out how we can assist you with your estate plan.